Pop! went our weasel-brained neighbors



Fifty years of pent-up frustration exploded all day and all night the past week in and over The City Beautiful.

And I could not sleep.

I had to be up early for a 7 a.m. appointment. So I went to bed about 9:30 p.m. Gotta have my eight solid hours in or I’m a bearcat.

Today, I’m a bearcat.

We were surrounded by friendly fire.

Black Cats and cherry bombs topped by bottle rockets.

Rat-a-tat-tat the string of Black Cats hissed at 9:45. Off shot the bottle rockets at 10 p.m. And then the boom of the cherry bomb from one neighbor. The next-door neighbor answers with a medley of three cherry bombs and Black Cats at 10:15 p.m. And then the other neighbor answers in a symphony round of rat-a-tat-tats with sizzles and pops and then a triad of cherry bomb BOOMS until after 11 p.m.

Mabel the Newshound did not like it. She went into her bedtime constitutional crouch when a boom let loose and she skedaddled back to the house, chores undone. Those chores have been done in the basement when the poor dog feels under siege.

It sounded like we had returned to DaNang. It makes me wonder what a Vietnam vet with PTSD must be going through if a mutt is absolutely terrified.

It was more fun when fireworks technically were illegal.

You would take a road trip up to South Dakota and come back with a car full of explosives to distribute to friends and families that they might blow their thumbs off.

Nobody really bothered you. You could shoot off the illicit fireworks on July 3 and July 4 and, depending on when the Fourth falls, you could get rid of the leftovers on the Fifth.

You could get in trouble if you went overboard and really bugged the neighbors. But fireworks were tolerated for those three or four days. And it seemed a little more fun, like you were committing a junior high crime in the dark of night when no one could find you and the evidence had been blown to smithereens.

The Iowa Legislature ripped open the floodgates in a fit of patriotic freedom frenzy.

Feel free to cart an assault rifle into the courthouse.

Feel free to set up a fireworks tent and let ’er rip, to boot.

We had been told since Spencer burned down that fireworks are bad and you cannot have them because people are too stupid, generally, to handle them.

Storm Lakers have proved out the wisdom of that old law over the last week in spades.

Finally, they can light fuses until they go blind and listen to the joyous blasts til they run deaf.

They can be stupid children who have no regard for anything but their own spontaneous delight.

They don’t care if my dog poops in the basement out of fear. They don’t care that nobody in the neighborhood who chooses not to blast cannot sleep without smothering themselves with a pillow. And they don’t care if they put somebody’s eye out.

The Storm Lake City Council could have prevented this. The staff recommended that the use of fireworks inside the city limits should be prohibited. The police would enforce it as they always have — keep it under control, use some sense and you get no trouble.

But the council went with the freedom theme.

Do your thing. Take no care for your neighbor. Have your fun. Delight in Storm Lake sounding like a war zone. After all, how can you really have fun without a gun and some explosives? Is there a problem if I shoot a cannon on Irving Street? No lead inside, just a good pack of smoke and fire and sound. And when you can’t shoot a cannon in town anymore, just what does the Declaration of Independence mean?

I heard them shoot off the cannon at Buena Vista University after a rare football win. I thought Al Qaeda hit Circle Park. Grab the golf clubs, ma! We got us some Arabs to fight back to Sioux City.

I would prefer that the Beavers shoot a cannon every Saturday at an appointed time — what with a new coach and optimism — than have Neanderthals who apparently just discovered fire rejoice in it at all hours while working folk turn in bed and dogs crouch in basement darkness in shame.

This is miserable.

For a week, half of Storm Lake is angry and not feeling all that patriotic. We would like to tell our formerly gracious neighbors where they can put that Black Cat and bottle rocket. Do we really have to call the cops to enforce a fireworks curfew just because you have the same mass of brain as a firecracker?

The council said this fireworks allowance is an experiment.

It is a failure. A total failure. The council should douse this thing before another year of misery besets us, or before somebody gets hurt. There are too many fools to live in anarchy.